And Carry Yourself Shamefully
Friday, August 12th, before the horrors in Charlottesville, Virginia, President Trump, standing between Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, announced “We have many options for Venezuela, including a possible military option, if necessary” --- TWiCE! A “military option” in Venezuela? This, following his weeks-long saber rattling about North Korea, reveals Trump’s vague and ignorant awareness about how to conduct foreign diplomacy. Even Republicans like Lindsay Graham were puzzled (to say the least) about the Venezuela statement. Combine this with his ignoring the Muslim mosque bombing in Minnesota on August 5th (we’re still waiting for a statement about “terrorism” from the President on that one) and then commenting on Saturday’s murderous demonstrations by claiming "We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence, on many sides. On many sides” and we can see our President is, indeed, more unqualified for his job than even the most cynical of us believed.
It is not just that Trump pops off with threats of military intervention in a neighboring country (without, I’m sure, any awareness of the Monroe Doctrine, what it says, how it’s been used, etc.), it’s that he remains silent when a Muslim mosque is attacked and declares that the Charlottesville “carnage” (to use his word) was the result of “hatred, bigotry, and violence on many sides.” Many sides? Really? As noted in today’s NY Times lead editorial:
The neo-Nazis heard his message loud and clear.
“He didn’t attack us,” crowed The Daily Stormer, a white supremacist website, about Mr. Trump’s statement after the two days of racist demonstrations. “Refused to answer a question about White Nationalists supporting him. No condemnation at all. When asked to condemn, he just walked out of the room. Really, really good. God bless him.”
It took three days before Trump grudgingly condemned (specifically) “Neo-Nazis” and the “KKK.” It is time to face up to the reality of our situation --- Donald Trump is not simply keeping quiet to appease his “base.” He is quiet because he agrees with his base! In that sense, he is a “man of the people” --- just the wrong people.
In an Op-Ed in today’s NY Times about the “Bigotocracy,” Michael Eric Dyson uses a Lyndon B. Johnson quote:
“If you can convince the lowest white man he’s better than the best colored man, he won’t notice you’re picking his pocket. Hell, give him somebody to look down on, and he’ll empty his pockets for you.”
Indeed, what Trump --- driven by his own obsession with trying to de-legitimatize Obama --- believes (and Steve Bannon struck pay dirt with this) in white supremacy. Of course, within those beliefs, he sees himself as most supreme --- the pinnacle of white supremacist evolution. Don’t for a minute think that that isn’t Donald Trump’s worldview. White people are clearly the superior race on Earth and he is at the front of that line --- that’s how Trump sees it.
To not understand that this worldview is a product of our history is to remain an ostrich buried to the neck. Trump represents the white rage, white resentment, and white ignorance that perpetuates both the racism and the belief in white supremacy that has been a cornerstone of United States culture and history since 1607. Surveying Trump’s personal history --- from his father’s racist housing/real estate policies, to his demand for the death penalty in the Central Park jogger case, to his “birtherism,” to his alliance with the alt-right --- we see he has been consistent in showing his beliefs. Trump rode the waves propelled by Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh and Alex Jones, bemoaning “political correctness” and the “liberal media,” --- language which preyed on “low-information” citizens, people who do, in fact, suffer at the hands of wealthy elites. Trump, the Queens outsider, has convinced those people that his millions (does anyone actually believe he is a Billionaire?) mean nothing --- he, too, detests the “liberal media,” “political correctness,” and that Establishment Elite (who have kept Trump on the “outside,” despite his wealth). So, Trump taps into the buried resentment that Barack Obama’s presidency created for lower class, “under-educated” white people, as well as those whites who (like Democratic Bernie Sanders supporters) were looking for an “outsider” who promised to upset the Apple Cart.
Donald Trump is a churlish, petty, deeply ignorant, morally deficient individual. If not endorsing the actions of the extreme alt-right he certainly is not condemning them --- because he shares their core values about white nationalism and supremacy. A man who reflexively Tweets “radical Islamic terrorism” cannot condemn the bombing of a Muslim mosque in the United States? His implicit “Make America White Again” campaign has encouraged the alt-right, the Neo-Nazis, and the KKK, to publicly express their messages of racism, anti-Semitism, and bigotry. As long as Steve Bannon, Stephen Miller, and Sebastian Gorka are included as West Wing “advisors,” Trump doesn’t have to tell us anything else about where he stands.